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wedding guests


DC Wedding Planning: 6 Tips For Creating a Wedding Guest List

Happy Wedding Wednesday!

We're still in the thick of engagement season, and today I'm touching on a hot topic! I'm here to the rescue, giving help to the newly engaged couples who are scratching their heads trying to come up with a guest list for the big day. I know it can be hard - I've been on both sides as a planner and a bride, so I sympathize with you. But no need to fret, today's tips should send some relief and insight.

Photo Credit: SC Stockshop

Photo Credit: SC Stockshop

Here are 6 things to consider when creating your wedding guest list:


How do you envision your big day? For some, the answer may be sharing with a few of our closest family members and friends in a romantic, intimate setting.  For others that may mean, a large celebration of love, in a gorgeous and festive setting. Whatever your vision may be, be sure to let that guide you in creating your guest list, instead of letting your vision be drowned out by guest list guilt

Additionally, your venue has to be considered, as well. If you've fell in love with and booked a beautiful estate that comfortably accommodates 75 guests, don't try to squeeze 100 guests in there because of again, guest list guilt. Furthermore, before booking your venue, having a preliminary guest count is key, and sticking in and around that is important. If you know in advance you want a large wedding, don't waste time considering small venues. Again, let your vision (and budget covered next), be your guide! 


Let's face it, budget really is a huge part of creating a guest list that must be tackled early on in the planning. You may have tons of family and friends that you'd love to share your day with, but can you realistic afford catering and bar services for 300 people? Maybe yes, maybe no. Here's a pro tip, your reception will likely be the biggest expense of your wedding.

As a planner, one of the first steps I take with my sensational couples is creating their itemized wedding budget, with their wedding style and the guest count they are considering in mind. This is so valuable to do at the onset because in some cases a couple's guest count doesn't match their budget. For example, you want to invite 200 guests and the venue you love provides catering and bar services, which are $200 per person. However, you were hoping to spend $40,000 on the entire wedding, so there's a problem. Thus, crunching the numbers with your planner is crucial.


You and your love are preparing to join together as one, and a great way to start learning how to make decisions together is with the guest list. It's your big day, so come to a consensus together on who you two would like to share it with. Decide how you two want to handle the guest list, whether that means 75 guests for you and 75 for your fiancé, or your fiancé may want less guests on his side because you have the larger family, or simply you two list each guest together. Do whatever feels right to you two.

Now some of you might be saying, our parents aren't going for that, in the event that they are financing the wedding. I get it, sometimes money equates to decision making. However, that doesn't have to put a monkey wrench in the two of you calling the guest list shots. In many cases, some of the guests your parents want to invite, you were already planning to invite anyway. In other cases, it may call for a heart to heart with mom and dad, and letting them down easy, while assuring them you've carefully considered everyone YOU really want there. Outside of your parents, I would strongly encourage you to limit outside involvement with your guest list for the sake of your sanity. Thank me later :) 


Creating your guest list doesn't have to be a headache, with the a and b list option. This is especially helpful for couples who struggle with large guest counts. Instead of stressing yourself and considering an elopement, after you've done the tips above, create an A list based on the must invite guests that add up to the guest count you set. Another pro tip is you can add a few extra guests to this list to account for guests who may not be able to come - but a few, not 50 :) Now, for those 50 extra guests that you're thinking of, those folks can go to the B list. Once you've sent out save the dates to the A list, you'll likely get insight from guests who know they can't attend, in which case some B list guests can move up to the A list. 

Another tip is to arrange guests in categories, based on their relationship with you. This is helpful in organizing your guest list, and limits the chance of forgetting a VIP. Here are some guest categories to consider, and rank them in order of priority:

  • Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Godparents

  • First Aunts, Uncles, Cousins

  • Closest Friends

  • Family - not listed above

  • Co-Workers, Fraternity Brothers/Sorority Sisters, Church Family - Group 1

  • Friends and Friends of Family - not listed above

  • Co-Workers, Fraternity Brothers/Sorority Sisters, Church Family - Group 2

  • Children (if they are invited)

  • Other

When doing the category exercise, you may find that certain categories won't make the cut based on your guest count, such as children or some college friends, which is why ranking in order or priority will help to determine the essential guests.


Plus ones is another important item to consider when creating your guest list, and really deserves it's own post (coming soon), but I will break it down simply for now. First and foremost, your married guests' husbands or wives SHOULD be invited. Whether you've met that co-worker's spouse or not, it's proper etiquette to invite the spouses of your guests. Therefore, if you already started your guest list, but didn't include spouses, be prepared to up your numbers.

You don't have to extend a plus one for all unmarried guests. However, it's recommended to be strategic and fair if allowing some, but not all unmarried guests to have a plus one. For example, you may want your double date night crew who are not married to attend, which makes sense. On the other hand, you may have a friend who just got into a new relationship and you don't know her significant other yet, in which case it's fine if you don't want to extend a plus one. Also, it's important to consider unmarried couples who have been in a long-term committed relationship and/or live together, in which case it would be challenging to invite 1 person in a household and not the other (with the exception of children, who don't have to be invited to a wedding, unless you want them, too). In short, be wise and fair with plus ones.


When working with couples who are trying to cut down their guest list, I recommend that they consider their history and current state with those particular guests. Here are some great questions to ask yourself when contemplating if you want to invite a particular guest or not:

  • Are we really close or have we grown apart?

  • When was the last time I spoke to or saw him/her?

  • Has this person ever met my fiancé or know anything about us as a couple?

  • Was I invited to his/her wedding?

  • Has this person attended or declined the last 3 events I hosted?

Remember this is a big and special day, that realistically can't be shared with every single person you know, so choose your guest list wisely.

Tell me what you think about these tips, and share you guest list questions below!

Sensationally yours,





DC Wedding Planning: 8 Tips For Being An Amazing Wedding Guest

Happy Wedding Wednesday! I'm so happy to share today's post, which I hope you find to be very insightful from a couple's and wedding planner's perspective.

A wedding is such a joyous, celebratory event. It joins together family and friends, all in the name of love. Couples, planners and vendors work diligently to produce beautiful, enjoyable and well executed weddings. One of the things I love as a planner is education - whether it's going to trainings or coaching my couples and peers. Well today, I'm happy to share some tips for wedding guests! 

Photo Credit: Mandi Mitchell Photography

Photo Credit: Mandi Mitchell Photography

Whether these are tips you already know or perhaps some you've never considered, I hope they equip or refresh wedding guests on ways to help the couple during the planning process and to show up in love and support on wedding day. There are so many great tips to be shared on this topic, but here are my top eight:

1. Be timely with rsvps and arriving to the wedding

In this busy, on the go world we live in, returning a rsvp card might unintentionally fall to the bottom of your to do list. However, wedding guests are encouraged to make this a priority. Why? It's essential for the couple, caterer, wedding planner and other vendors in accurately accounting for meals, seating, and many of the wedding day details. Whether you can attend or not, do the couple (and vendors) a favor and respond with your gladly accepts or regretfully  declines by the requested deadline. Also, don't forget to write your name on the line allotted for you on the rsvp card.

Also, on-time arrival to the wedding is so important. Here's a tip - plan to arrive 15-20 minutes prior to the ceremony start time. This will give you plenty of time to sign the guest book, locate the gift table, freshen up your lipstick and find a seat before the processional begins. If you arrive 30 minutes or more early, kindly understand it's unlikely that you will be able to seated, as doors generally are not opened until 15-30 minutes prior to the ceremony. On the flipside, should you arrive late, also kindly understand that you will not be able to be seated until the wedding party and couple has processed in or you may be unable to be seated for the ceremony (based on the couple's preference for late arrivals). So in short, plan for traffic and make every effort to be there on time to joyfully celebrate with the couple. 

Photo Credit: LaJoy Photography

Photo Credit: LaJoy Photography

2. Notify of any food allergies/dietary restrictions

Along with sending in your rsvp, there may be an option for you to select an entree choice, depending on the couple's catering options. If by chance the couple has opted to serve guests the same meal, caterers can of course still accommodate those with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Should you be vegan, vegetarian, allergic to nuts, or have any other accommodations that need to be made for your meal, kindly notify the couple or wedding planner when you rsvp. The last thing we want is for any guests to have a reaction or become ill at the reception. If you don't have food allergies or dietary restrictions, it is recommended to refrain from requesting special meals or changing the entree you selected on the day of. Additionally, please be understanding that caterers typically do not box up uneaten or leftover food for guests to take home, like a restaurant, so it's recommended not to make this request.

Photo Credit: Rhea Whitney

Photo Credit: Rhea Whitney

3. Refrain from bring uninvited guests

Ok folks, if you want to be an amazing wedding guest, you will shoot to the top of the list by only bringing invited guests. I get it, sometimes you may want to bring a date but you weren't given the plus one option, or perhaps you were unable to secure childcare for your child...regardless of the scenario, it's so important that the number of guest(s) for your invitation be adhered to.

In addition, it's important not to assume that a plus one or other family members were invited just because you were (with the exception of your spouse who the invitation should already be addressed to). The general rule is whomever the outer envelope of the invitation was addressed to are the only invited person(s). For example, if an invitation was addressed Mr. and Mrs. Sean Carter, they wouldn't assume that Blue Ivy, Sir and Rumi can attend, otherwise their names would have been listed, too. For unmarried guests, if you are extended a plus one it should say for example Mr. John Doe and Guest (or the invited guest's name). 

Let's show the couple love and support by respecting their guest list wishes and not requesting to be invited or taking it upon yourself to invite others to come with you. Additionally, swapping out invited guests for uninvited guests is also highly discouraged. Save yourself the hassle of having an uninvited guest turned away at the reception because the wedding planner will respect the couple's wishes.

4. Be mindful of the hired pros

When the couple has hired quality professional wedding vendors, rest assured that you are in for a treat at the wedding, but also that the couple is in good hands and their wedding wishes will be executed. To that end, it is important to be mindful of the couple's hired pros. A few ways you can do this are:

  • Avoid blocking the photographers and cinematographers view. The couple has likely invested in top notch vendors (they have if they are a sensational couple), so the last thing they want is Aunt Jane, Uncle John and Cousin Joe standing in the aisle taking photos and going live on Instagram obstructing the vendors view and worse being in the vendors shots. We get it, you want to capture memories of your loved ones day too, but please know that it's first most important for the vendors to do their job without obstruction. If it is not an unplugged wedding, feel free to take photos in your seat, at your table, and with the couple and guests at an appropriate time.

  • Avoid suggesting changes or additions to the flow of the wedding day. Perhaps there are family traditions you would love to see at the wedding or maybe you've attended many weddings and have great ideas that you think could be utilized. While the ideas may be great, understand the planner can not implement changes or additions to the wedding. We have worked hard to gather all of the couple's wishes and the couple has entrusted us to execute that vision alone.

  • Avoid asking the DJ for song requests. I'm a huge music lover, and many wedding guests are too, so naturally you want to hear your song! And that's totally fine. However, understand that the couple has provided the DJ with the genres of music they like and in many cases specific songs and artists they want to hear. Therefore, allow the DJ the opportunity to not only fulfill the couple's wishes, but also to display their talent and skill.

5. Consider the wedding style in terms of attire

The only attire rule that used to apply was never wear white to a wedding. However, with so many new wedding trends, in some instances guests are actually invited to wear white or all black, when couples suggest color codes. In other instances, couples have black tie formal weddings or the opposite rustic weddings. In terms of attire, my tip is to consider the style of the wedding in an effort to determine what to wear.

Generally, jeans and super casual attire is a no-no, unless it is specifically requested for guests to come that casual. My personal rule of thumb when no style is inferred, is to A) consider the couple's style, venue(s) and invitation for guidance - if it's a super formal venue or invitation then I dress up a bit more, B) generally defer to a dress, and C) my husband generally defers to a suit (if it's not a beach wedding).

Photo Credit: Rhea Whitney

Photo Credit: Rhea Whitney

6. Get out on the dance floor

Don't be a party pooper, get out on the dance floor (of course if you have a health issue this doesn't apply)! Now if you're not the dancing type, no worries. My recommendation is to at least get out there for 1 song, and enjoy cake and conversing with other guests in the meantime. Additionally, if it's an evening wedding, and perhaps you are unable to stay until the end, try to hang around for as long as you can. After all, if everyone leaves early, that would be no fun for the couple, right?! Most of my sensational couples look forward to having a great time on the dance floor with their guests, so don't disappoint them :)

Photo Credit: Rhea Whitney

Photo Credit: Rhea Whitney

7. Show the love

After working for nearly a year or more on their wedding, couples are excited for the culmination of the wedding planning. Show them your love and support for their new life together, by not only showing up to the wedding, but extending personal congrats to the couple. The most common way to do this is to bring a card and wedding gift from their wedding registry or a monetary gift. Additionally, when the opportunity presents itself, tell the couple how happy you are for them, how nice the wedding is/was, and how amazing they look. After all, who doesn't love well wishes and compliments right?!

Photo Credit: LaJoy Photography

Photo Credit: LaJoy Photography

8. Enjoy yourself

Last but not least, all couples want their wedding guests to have an amazing time, so enjoy yourself! Soak up the moments celebrating your loved ones, seeing friends and family, eating a delicious meal, hopping in the photobooth and hitting the dance floor. Many couples work hard to personalize their weddings and create an amazing guest experience, so enjoy it all! When I'm not planning a wedding, I fully enjoy being a wedding guest, as it's a 2 for 1 deal - celebrating people I love and date night with hubby :)

Alright folks, that's my top eight, and I hope you enjoyed them! In the comments section, tell me what you think, and any other tips you would add to this list.

Sensationally yours,




Fall Fashion for Wedding Guests...Under $99!

Happy first day of Fall! I don't know about you, but I've been anxious for this season and the fashion fun it brings. I'm all too thrilled to pull out my jackets, boots, scarves and more. In addition, the beautiful autumn weather and foliage makes Fall a very popular wedding season! By now, most brides, grooms and their bridal party have their Fall wedding fashion set. However, guests of these Fall weddings are likely to still be in limbo about their looks. For all the ladies out there who are still on the hunt for that perfect dress to wear to your friends or relative's big day, we are here to help! When it comes to fashion, I'm big on 3 things: style, savings and online shopping. So naturally, I love Neiman Marcus Last Call because they have so many luxe looks for less. When I was recently shopping on their website, I ran across an abundance of looks that would be perfect for wedding guests. Not to mention, they are currently having an extra 30% off  promotion which ends today. Needless to say I got excited, and I had to share the sensational savings info with all of you.

In case you get overwhelmed with all the fabulous fashion at Last Call, I've narrowed my favorites down to a top 10 list below, each currently under $99. My fashion list covers both daytime and evening weddings, and my picks are perfect darker hues to tie into Fall.

fall1 fall2









We hope you enjoy this wedding season! Don't forget to pair your wedding fashion with the perfect accessories, heels and jacket to complete your fabulous Fall look. Tell us about your Fall fashion must haves in the discussion section of this post. Happy Shopping!

Sensationally yours,